"Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, nearly 3,500 American Indians/Alaska Natives have been diagnosed with the disease and approximately half of our brothers and sisters have passed on from it. We have the third highest rate of new HIV infections in the country after African Americans and Latinos. Sadly, we have the shortest survival rate.
March 20 marks the fourth annual National Native HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. This single day, the first day of spring, has been set aside each year to bring awareness to HIV and AIDS specifically in American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian communities.
The four seasons are highly respected in many cultures because they so closely represent the cycle of life. Spring represents a time of equality and balance. It is a time of profound change, new beginnings and birth. This day is not simply tied to a numbered box on a calendar, but to nature and the natural cycle of growth and renewal. And to further perpetuate this notion, an underlying and ongoing theme of “A Celebration of Life” was chosen to accompany the day.
This day will challenge us to work together, in harmony, to create a greater awareness of the risk of HIV/AIDS to our Native communities, to call for resources for testing and early detection and for increased treatment options, and to eventually decrease the occurrence of HIV/AIDS among Native people. It is a time to reflect on those who have passed and who are infected and affected by HIV/AIDS today. The Awareness Day encourages Native communities to learn more, educate others and take action against HIV/AIDS and its impact."
Get the Story:
Jack C. Jackson Jr.: Marking AIDS awareness in Native America
(Indian Country Today 3/18)
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